Capitol Updates

CAPITOL UPDATE – January 21, 2020

Bill Introductions

Over the first eight days of the session, Senators have introduced 365 new bills and nine constitutional amendments for consideration. We will continue to provide updates on newly introduced bills through January 23, when bill introduction ends.

As the session unfolds, the major education issues of interest are expected to revolve around classroom safety, school finance and property tax relief. Please continue to check www.NSEA.org and your personal email inbox for NSEA member alerts on the latest action items. Stay informed with the latest information on education and school finance legislation: Click here to sign up and receive the Capitol Update newsletter.

Sen. Wayne Files Kill Motion on Classroom Safety Bill

There was vigorous debate over LB147, the Classroom Safety Bill, on Monday, Jan. 13. Legislators spent three hours on General File debate discussing the need for such legislation. Senator Justin Wayne of Omaha filed a motion to kill the bill. As a result, no action was taken on the bill and proponents now must garner 33 votes to end Wayne’s filibuster and advance the bill to Select File. The bill will promote safe learning and teaching environments in schools and classrooms across Nebraska. NSEA has worked with other education groups on an amendment (AM1803) to LB147.

CALL TO ACTION: Please continue to contact your state senator and impress upon him/her the importance of LB147. Please find and contact your state senator here. In your own words, please share with senators:

  • How violence and aggression has affected your classroom and disrupted learning for all students;
  • How all students are affected when a student becomes so aggressive or violent that other students are in danger or a classroom must be cleared;
  • That Nebraska teachers do not want any child to miss an opportunity to learn, including those students who are disruptive and need to be temporarily removed from the classroom; and
  • That LB147 makes it clear that physical intervention is a last resort, after de-escalation efforts, and shall not be used for the purpose of inflicting bodily pain as a penalty for disruptive behavior.

Passage of LB147 is a top priority for NSEA. We want state senators to know that teachers across the state support the provisions and basic concept of LB147 and that safer classrooms are beneficial to all members of the public school family, including teachers, students, administrators and school staff!

Linehan’s Property Tax Bill Will Harm Public Schools

This Wednesday, January 22, the Revenue Committee will hear public testimony regarding LB974, which is being touted as property tax reform. In fact, the bill would make permanent changes to the school funding formula using a one-time surplus in state revenue to pay for a tax reduction. In the long term, this plan will end up hurting public schools. The NSEA has very serious concerns about the financial sustainability of this proposal and its effect on our state's public school students.

LB974 will hurt our students and public schools. The bill's price tag will mean budget cuts in the near future, including slashing funding for education at a time when policymakers should be discussing ways to more adequately and equitably fund schools. The funding for this proposal relies completely on a projected one-time surplus – and projections and estimates are often wrong. The surplus may not actually materialize, and even if it does, it could vary by tens of millions of dollars. Further, today’s economic conditions may not be tomorrow’s economic conditions: When the state revenue surplus turns to a deficit and the property tax relief provisions of this bill falter, public schools will remain under the severe budget restrictions of LB974 – with no alternative funding sources. That will mean cutting education to the core, even though educating kids is the most important investment our state can make.

LB974 limits local control. The bill ties school budgets to the Consumer Price Index, which has nothing to do with the cost of a school bus, a textbook, or many other school expenditures. LB974 gives some districts a one-time cash infusion while placing unsustainable limits on other districts' ability to hire and retain quality teachers or to safely accommodate a growing number of students. Schools already operate within taxing limits and spending limits.

LB974 would take funding from the schools that most need it and make it more difficult for school officials to plan for the future and provide a quality education to all students.

The goal for our state lawmakers must be to provide property tax relief with a plan that does not hurt our students and schools and that does not rely on an unreliable, projected one-time surplus.

ACTION NEEDED! Please contact the members of the Revenue Committee, and respectfully urge them to oppose LB974. The NSEA has very serious concerns about the financial sustainability of this proposal and its impact on students and public schools in Nebraska. Help us stop this bill: Urge these senators not to advance LB 974.

Sen. LouAnn Linehan, Chair:          llinehan@leg.ne.gov

Sen. Tom Briese:                         tbriese@leg.ne.gov 

Sen. Sue Crawford:                     scrawford@leg.ne.gov

Sen. Kurt Friesen:                        kfriesen@leg.ne.gov

Sen. Mike Groene:                       mgroene@leg.ne.gov

Sen. Mark Kolterman:                  mkolterman@leg.ne.gov

Sen. Brett Lindstrom:                   blindstrom@leg.ne.gov

Sen. John McCollister:                 jmccollister@leg.ne.gov

Meet, Visit & Dine with Your Senator

NSEA Members are encouraged to attend the NSEA Legislative Dinner at the Nebraska Champion's Club in Lincoln on Tuesday, March 3, to meet and dine with your state senator. The reception will be held beginning at 5 p.m., with dinner catered by Misty’s at 6 p.m.

Contact Jan Anderson (jan.anderson@nsea.org) or by phone 402-475-7611.

Upcoming Committee Hearings

Unless otherwise noted, hearings begin at 1:30 p.m. and are live-streamed via NET and can be accessed online by clicking here.

Tuesday, January 21, 2020

Education Committee – Room 1525

LB880 (Groene) Change dates related to certifications and distributions of state aid to schools

NSEA Position: Monitor

Changes NDE’s certification date for TEEOSA (State Aid) from on or before June 10, 2019 to on or before May 1, 2020. Would delay the deadline for certifying state aid, budget authority, and applicable allowable reserve percentages.

LB920 (Groene) Change provisions for the distribution of lottery funds used for education

NSEA Position: Support

Changes how the lottery funds used for education are distributed, transfers the powers and duties concerning the Excellence in Teaching Act from the NDE to the Coordinating Commission for Postsecondary Education, and creates the Access College Early Scholarship Cash Fund and the Career-Readiness & Dual Credit Education Cash Fund which will be administered by the Coordinating Commission for Postsecondary Education and the Behavioral Training Cash Fund and College Credit Testing Fee Fund will be administered by Nebraska Department of Education. Provides grant funding for National Board Certification Training and Praxis exams.

Wednesday, January 22, 2020

Revenue Committee – Room 1524

LB974 (Revenue Cmmt) Change taxation and school funding provisions

NSEA Position: Oppose

Lowers taxable value of agricultural land both in and out of TEEOSA by 20% over two years for purposes of school property taxes. Lowers taxable value of residential/commercial property both in and out of TEEOSA by 15% over three years for purposes of school property taxes. Foundation aid equal to up to 15% of state net sales and income tax revenue. Allocates aid on a per-student basis with each school receiving at least 15% of its basic funding. Limits school spending growth to CPI. Starting in FY24, it changes the maximum levy to the lesser of $1.06 or the local formula contribution. Eliminates averaging adjustment and allocated income tax. Changes calculation and reduces net option funding. Reduces building fund from 14 to 6 cents. Allows schools to make up 75% of any decrease certified state aid, as compared to the January estimate, with a vote of at least ⅔ of the school board.